Maumelle teen goes for ‘gold’

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published May 12, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 10, 2013 at 2:41 p.m.
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Nick Hillemann

Emily Darnell, 15, of Maumelle received the highest honor awarded in Girl Scouting, the Girl Scout Gold Award, on April 20. Only approximately 5 percent of eligible Scouts earn the award, and Emily achieved it by establishing a permanent therapy room at the England Elementary School so the therapists now have a place to work with children every day, instead of only once or twice per week.

Emily Darnell of Maumelle is making a name for herself. She recently received the Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. At the age of 15, Emily has been in Girl Scouts for nine years.

The award is only open to girls in high school, and it challenges recipients to change the world, the Girl Scouts website states.

The Girl Scout Gold Award requires girls in ninth through 12th grades to dedicate a minimum of two years to complete all requirements for the award, the organization said.

Emily received the Gold Award on April 20.

She is a member of Troop 6157 in the Girl Scouts-Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas jurisdiction. She was one of 13 girls in the jurisdiction to win the award in 2013.

Emily’s award was for her work with England Elementary School to build a permanent therapy room for special-needs children at the school.

“They didn’t get to do therapy every day,” Emily said.

The students at England Elementary School had to do therapy in the classroom, and there were many distractions, she said.

With the new room, students are able to get occupational and physical therapy every day outside of the classroom.

Jane, Emily’s mother, said she is proud of her daughter and her achievements.

“I was really proud that she stuck with [the project],” Jane said. “I was really glad to see her jump in and do it.”

Jane said the room that was converted into a therapy room was an extra classroom in the school.

“It had tons of stuff in it, and we had to move it out,” Jane said.

Emily said she liked getting to work closely with the children and therapists at England Elementary.

“After we made the room, we got to see the kids come in and use it,” Emily said.

Because she is one of the older girls in her troop, Emily has found a love for helping others that are younger than her.

“When you’re older, you get to work with the younger kids, and I really enjoy that,” Emily said.

Jane said she encouraged Emily to get into Girl Scouts when she was 7 years old.

“People don’t realize the courage and confidence [Girl Scouts] gives the girls,” Jane said. “They really stress volunteerism and want to get them out in the community.”

Emily said she worked hard to get her Girl Scout Gold Award but wants to encourage fellow scouts to do the same.

“It’s worth it,” Emily said. “You get to work really closely with your community.”

Aside from her work in Girl Scouts, Emily volunteers at her church, First Baptist Church Maumelle, where she works with the AWANA program. The church also offers a donation-driven “CALL Mall” for foster parents in the area, allowing parents can come in and get clothes for the children they are keeping in their homes. Emily volunteers with the mall every week.

Jane admires her daughter for the volunteer work that she puts in each week.

“Not a lot of teens want to spend their Saturday mornings sorting through clothes,” Jane said.

Emily said that after working with occupational therapists for her Gold Award project, she possibly wants to pursue a career in occupational therapy.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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